VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Workers in a Canteen
P-0236
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

In Workers in the Canteen, Chua moves towards a different kind of historical documentation. The painting is based on a lunchtime scene at Jurong Shipyard, and intends to highlight and salute the contribution of the working classes to the nation’s program of rapid industrial and economic development. Through something as basic as lunch, it is a portrayal of the simple reality of the daily life of the blue-collar worker. In terms of composition, the layering and detail reveal a greater complexity and maturity in Chua’s execution since National Language Class. Following the lines of perspective, our attention is directed from the workers engaged in meals in the foreground, to the animated conversation in the centre and beyond the entrance of the canteen, where the bright noonday sun is reflected on the machinery. The interplay between foreground and background accentuates the subject matter in a dynamic manner.

History of the Object
Born in 1932 in Shantou, Guandong Province in China, Chua Mia Tee arrived in Singapore in 1937 and attended the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts from 1952 to 1957, where he studied under Lim Hak Tai, Cheong Soo Pieng, Koh Tong Leong and See Hiang To. To Chua, art must reflect real life. It need not necessarily be fully naturalistic but it must be firmly grounded in reality, so that the work is in no way ambiguous but rather offers an easily accessible point of reference for the viewer.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Oil on canvas 
Measurements
H: 89 W: 126 cm 
Creator name
Chua Mia Tee 
Creator date
1931 
Where it was made
Singapore 
Geography
Singapore 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; 1974 
Function
Art Work 
Acquisition
The painting was donated by the artist, Chua Mia Tee, to the museum on 29th September 1976 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Singapore Art Museum 
Museum
Singapore Art Museum 
Credit line
Donation from Chua Mia Tee 

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